"Salvation is our cooperative effort with God's grace through keeping of the commandments and the acquisition of the beauty of the virtues, which bring man, who is in the image of God, to the likeness of God."

~Taken from Acquiring The Mind of Christ by Archimandrite Sergius (Bowyer)

 

This, to me, has got to be one of the most profound and wonderfully simply stated explanations of the Orthodox view of salvation I have ever come across.  It is short and simple and to the point.

Salvation is not a one time experience and guarantee.  It is a process.  And while I can say I was saved when Jesus died on the cross, I also know that it is, indeed, a process.  I can mess up that salvation for myself if I part from God- my relationship with Him and His commandments.  For in parting from those, I am furthering myself from becoming like Him.

Yet as I go through the day-  seeking Him in prayer, attending Liturgy and taking part in the sacraments, reading the bible and books that encourage my faith, surrounding myself with others of the faith, teaching my children about the faith, singing hymns, practicing gratitude, and attempting to avoid sin,    all of those things bring me closer to Him and, therefore, is me demonstrating that cooperative effort with His grace.

I've always enjoyed reading explanations of salvation.  This one really struck me this morning and I was compelled to share.  Hopefully it gives you as much to ponder as it did for me.

What are you doing today to keep that cooperative effort going?

Wrapping It Up

Christ is Risen!

My readers haven’t heard from me much this past month. In fact, the only posts I made were these: Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday; Holy Week Part One and Part Two; and Glorious Pascha. Part of that was due to the attempt at really taking time only for the one thing needful - Christ – during this holy time of year and part of that is due to just not having time for anything else.

It was a busy month – full of church activities, homeschool activities and planning, a birthday, book reading and more….

My Writing World

The posts I listed above are about the extent of it. I didn’t even pull out a manuscript let alone work on one. I’ve come to the conclusion I may need to give up my critique groups – this leaves me saddened as I’ve spent a bit of time with these people and have enjoyed and benefitted from their feedback; however, I barely have time to work on my manuscripts, let along critique several others.

I still have not gotten beyond week 3 of my class with Emma Walt Hamilton which I signed up for back in February….    Thank goodness it’s NOT a correspondence course with deadlines!

I’m not sure what May will hold for me… I’m really wanting to focus on finishing the organization of the house since we’ve been here for 9 months and there are still large areas that are highly disorganized. There is, in fact, a couple of things I haven’t located yet in the boxes still piled in my husband’s newly finished work space area we have dubbed as his ‘man cave’ and I’d like to have all of next year’s general homeschool plans finished before the official begin of our ‘summer’ time-   it will be summer eventually, right?

My Book World

While I didn’t read half as much as I had wanted to, I did do quite a bit.

Most of it’s been online reading…. Ambleside has caught my eye! (Ambleside is an online source for Charlotte Mason Homeschooling)

I am keeping up (barely) with the book I’m reading with my book club- Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. While a few things are of definite protestant nature, I am still benefitting quite a bit by the content of this book and am easily able to skim over anything that does not apply- which really isn’t much at all. The concept of self-differentiation keeps coming up in this book as well as several other sources as of late….this is a concept I think I really need to delve into and spend some time on.

I finished The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle and began a fiction book by Anita Shreve…. Testimony… it’s a bit more risqué than her other books and caught me offguard- but I think I’ll still finish it.  Once you get beyond the first three pages or so, it simmers down to Ms. Shreve's usual brilliance in writing and telling a tale that shows the consequences of one's behaviors...

I finally finished Love & Respect (I didn’t have much to go)This book is one that I will definitely keep rereading either with the book or in it’s audio form. My husband has listened to it twice already! If you want to learn more, check out Love&Respect.com.

And of course, there’s been lots of picture book reading! Here's a small sampling.

Our Homeschool World

The best part of our homeschool world this month was attending the St. Emmeilia Orthodox Homeschool Conference held at Antiochean Village in Ligonier, PA. We attend this conference faithfully every year, with the one exception of the year my youngest son was born. There are speakers for adult sessions as well as children’s workshops. Our keynote speaker this year was Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick and he was, as usual, wonderful to listen to. My own husband gave a presentation this year for one of the sessions offering wisdom to homeschool dads. Once again, it was an awesome year and my ‘hats’ go off to the wonderful women who made it happen!

It’s been a calm, relaxed month for actual academic work but a busy month of planning, especially this last week or so. My older son is steadily working at completing his work for the year. He probably won’t be done until the end of May, but has completed Grammar and Vocabulary, and will be finished with Chemistry today! That leaves Geometry, World Studies, Keyboarding, the rest of English 10 ( Literature & The Lost Tools of Writing) and Russian. He went far beyond his 180 hours in Physical Education a long time ago!

My youngest is just going with the flow. We haven’t done a whole lot of academic work lately, but I’m glad the weather has finally turned so we can at least resume our nature walks.  Other than that it's been a little math, bible reading and reading in general.

When we have time, he LOVES the Math U See program I bought a couple of months ago. We started with the Primer Level even though he knows quite a bit of it already but it’s a nice introduction to doing worksheets and working with the manipulatives. We keep the lessons very short but he’s flying through them as I don’t have him do ALL the worksheets for the concepts he has already mastered as that would be wasteful of our time and boring for him. But even math has gone by the wayside in these last few weeks….. and about the only thing we’ve done much of is our bible reading and story reading as much as possible.

Most of my ‘school’ time has been on the planning stages. I’m preparing materials and ideas for NEXT year…. Planning my older son’s 11th grade year! My, how the time has flown! I’m also reading a LOT about Charlotte Mason- mostly online at Ambleside.com and perusing Simply Charlotte Mason and other blogs, etc. that are focused on this methodology of homeschooling. I am HOPING to be able to share a lot of this with you in the future if my writing time will allow……

Our Food & Health World

My husband and I completed our Whole30 (really it was more like a Whole50) at Pascha. We didn’t test as many foods this time…… raw dairy, wheat and corn were about it.   I can’t really count my dairy day and will need to restest it at some point as I was under the weather that day. I didn’t really test wheat either for the same reason. Corn seemed to give me some digestive issues but nothing major.

My husband is motivated and wanting to continue. He’s not being QUITE as strict as the whole30 guidelines but he’s not exactly splurging either! He’s probably following the whole30 guidelines about 97%....and is definitely seeing the results. He’s the lowest in weight that he’s been in a very very long time. I’m so very proud of him. Motivation is key and he really is motivated.

Our Faith World

We celebrated the Lord’s Resurrection at Pascha on April 12th. That is the most glorious celebration for Orthodox Christians. It is the feast of feasts! And our joy doesn’t end there. We are still, for the 40 days following Pascha, greeting one another with our victorious “Christ is Risen!” It is the heart of the gospel. It is what Christianity is about. It is what makes our salvation possible! I am truly blessed to have found the Orthodox faith and to be able to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord in such a passionate manner each and every year.

I’m trying to reestablish my reading/devotion time in the morning. If I get up between 6 and 6:15, I can fit in about 10-15 minutes of reading. This is not necessarily bible time, as my goal is to do that in the evening. Right now it’s a toss-up between finishing An Introduction to God by Fr. Andrew (keynote speaker of the conference I told you about) and the new Introduction to Orthodoxy Book by Frederica Mathewes Green- one of my favorite Orthodox authors. I try to accompany this with a few minutes of quiet time, reflecting on what I’ve read and God’s love and mercy- though that part doesn’t always happen….

Other Parts of Life

My daughter celebrated her 20th birthday this month .   I’m so proud of the fine young lady she has grown to be. She has the best smile but I’ll respect her probable wishes NOT to show it here.  My sister came up from Virginia to share Thea's birthday as well as having some great game time and seeing the new house!

It’s Spring! I’m sooo glad to see the sun shining (at least occasionally) and the flowers blooming and the buds on the trees getting bigger every day! This is truly my favorite time of year as far as seasons go.

So that about wraps things up for me.

What did YOU do during the month of April?

2

For today's post, I want to present you with the information in my ABOUT Page.  Why?  Well, though it's my most read page, I'm sure not all of you have had the opportunity to read the updated version I posted last fall.  Second, I want to reintrodue my readers to everything that I desire to include in this blog- so if you've missed a topic that interests you, you'll know what to search for.  And third, I want to ask- as I take time to ponder and plan what I want to write about this upcoming year- what is it that makes you follow the blog?  I've asked this is a previous post, but I wanted to give my viewers another chance to answer that question after reading the ABOUT PAGE Information- in case they missed it! 🙂

About Me

I wear many hats in my life - Orthodox Christian, Wife, Momma, homeschool mother,  reader, friend, taxi driver, cook, maid, WRITER and many more!

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I write this blog for me and FOR YOU!!! It is for me because I LOVE to write and what better way for me to practice my skill than by writing and sharing with others my biggest passions in life. It’s for YOU because I find these things to be beneficial to EVERYONE!

SO….. WHAT WILL YOU READ ABOUT HERE?

Orthodoxy – Orthodox Christianity is my Faith – It’s the oldest Christian faith in the world remaining unchanged since 33AD. If you want to learn more, read about it here. I love to post about my faith as well as semi-weekly posts that are spiritual reflections – good for anyone of any Christian faith.

Homeschooling – I post things about all aspects of homeschooling. Some former posts have covered the Pennsylvania Homeschool law, methodology, the Charlotte Mason method, curriculum, busy bags, living books, and more!

Books – I love to write and with that is my passion for books! I post about the importance of reading and the books I’m reading – fiction and non-fiction. I attempt to do a formal book review at least once a month but will hopefully be catching up and doing extra reviews on books I’ve read in the past as well.

Whole Foods and Natural Health – My family has completely changed our health status by turning away from the Standard American Diet and changing to a Whole Foods approach using the foods God gave us for consumption and staying away from overly processed food products containing artificial man-made ingredients. In our adventure, I’ve learned about the Paleo Diet and am experimenting with that as well as many natural remedies for health ailments such as the cold and flu and enjoy sharing these with you as well. It may be interesting to note that neither my daughter nor I carry our former diagnoses of bipolar disorder and my husband was able to stop taking medications for high blood pressure and ADHD due to this lifestyle change!

Recipes - Because what’s a blog that talks about food if there’s no recipes?? 😉
Writing – After all, this blog only exists because of my passion for writing. I am an active member of SCBWI and the 12 x 12 group formed by Julie Hedlund. I am very hopeful to become a published children’s author and make millions of dollars -NOT! Lol. I won’t make money at being a children’s author. My goal is to enrich not my pocketbook, but the mind of a child. And I will share with you my journey along with an occasional writing exercise that may help the aspiring writer or homeschooler in their own journey.

LIFE - Really, I write about so much more than just the above major focal points including stress management, marriage, reflections on famous quotes, decluttering, parenting, and MORE because I am sharing my life with you as a WHOLE. A lot of blogs focus on just ONE aspect of the blogger’s life. They are very good blogs but here you will get a much bigger picture of me and my life, not just one piece. You get ME. And I get YOU.

So -  What makes you follow the blog?  What's your favorite topic?  And if you DON'T FOLLOW YET.....

.....FOLLOW ME NOW 🙂 (You can follow here on WordPress, Bloglovin' or on my Facebook page!) and remember to introduce yourself! Tell me YOUR PASSIONS!

 

2

A censor used to burn incense within the church.

My daughter brought her boyfriend to church yesterday.  It's a first for us.  First boyfriend and first time bringing him to church.  It was also a first for him - being inside an Orthodox Church.

She had to go to work right after the service so we didn't get to talk much about his experience, but during service I couldn't help but look around more and recall how I had taken in my surroundings of an Orthodox church the first time I ever visited one.  There's a LOT to notice.

The Incense -   If you are not used to incense, it could be a bit overwhelming.  I did find it a bit overwhelming my first few times inside an Orthodox church but have, over time, begun to truly love that the Orthodox worship services does appeal to all of our senses.  This incense symbolizes prayer which rises to God (like smoke) and the Grace of God which pours into our souls.  We sometimes burn incense in our homes as well, especially around the feast days.

The Icons -Being formerly Catholic I was used to figurines and various forms of pictures icon-540784_1280in church and homes, but I did wonder at the number of icons and the beauty shining from them.  The Icons are windows to Heaven.  We do not worship them, we venerate them; there's a HUGE difference but I'm sure it's quite confusing to a protestant entering the church for the first time.

Kissing -  What was the deal with everyone kissing everything?  This was unexpected for me as well.  I remember a very kindly old woman with nails as red as rubies grabbing my cheeks, pinching and leaning in to kiss them both.  WHAT?!  I went along with it out of sheer politeness but it sure did have me spinning in bewilderment.  A new visitor to the Orthodox church will notice we do indeed kiss a lot.  We kiss the icons upon entering church and before we leave (it's a sign of reverence, not worship, much like you would kiss a photograph of a deceased loved one).  We kiss the chalice and, in some churches, some kiss the priests hand after receiving communion. We also kiss each other before taking communion or as a simple sign of greeting (though in some parishes such as the OCA church I now attend do not do this nearly as much as other parishes).

Blessed Bred & Consecrated Bread -  This was a big eye opener for me.  Literally, I think my eyes just about popped out of my head as I totally did not get that the blessed

Communion in an Orthodox Church
Communion in an Orthodox Church

bread was not the same as the communion bread and I was shocked to see people taking handfuls of bread and walking around the church with it- giving it to others and watching crumbs fall upon the floor!  My stomach flipped- as I really thought this was the communion bread- the body of Christ- being stepped on by people in the isles. Needless to say I hope, I was WRONG and I was QUITE relived upon learning that the basket or plate of bread that people are able to partake of after communion is blessed, but not consecrated and therefore people can take portions for themselves as well as share it with others who have not gone to communion that day or are new visitors to the church as a sign of fellowship.

Music -  The music in the Orthodox Church is beautiful, but what made it noticeable to me right away was the lack of musical instruments.  Only the human voice is used in the Orthodox worship services.

I'm not sure what our daughter's boyfriend thought of all this yet, but I certainly enjoyed reflecting back onto my own first experience and all of my experiences that led me to converting to Orthodoxy.

What was the first thing YOU noticed about the Orthodox Church?  If you've never been in one, what is the one thing you are curious about?

Additional Resources on the above topics:

Incense in the Orthodox Church

No Graven Image:  Icons in the Orthodox Church

Music in the Orthodox Church

12 Things I Wish I Had Known

 

 

10

Well summer started just the other day and I realized we are halfway into the year!  This got me thinking back on my posts during January -  one on New Year's Resolutions (I realized I'm doing at least somewhat well with  7-8  of the resolutions I set for myself and not so well with about  7  of them and the one on books I wish to read by the end of this year.  Here's my progress on that list!:

NEWBERRY MEDAL BOOKS:  (I've read a few of these but really need to get cracking!)

  • Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead  (book review)
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman*
  • Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz*
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech  (book review)
  • Missing May by Cynthia Rylant  (book review)
  • Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson
  • Carry On Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
  • ?  still deciding....  (Rifles For Waite)  
  • ?  still deciding
* They are not in the picture because I haven't purchased them yet!

HOMESCHOOL SOURCES: (Doing well here)

  • Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Englemann - I've read the parts I need to 'read' but we are still using it for the exercises so I don't count it as totally completed yet! (We are over the halfway point...see my recent post on that here)
  • Exploring America by Ray Notgrass -  Reading Book #2 with my son for school
  • Laying Down The Rails - Sonya Shafer
  • The Early Years - Shafer & Smith
  • All Day Charlotte Mason Seminar  &  The Books and Things Seminar - DVDs and workbooks presented by Simply Charlotte Mason
  • When Children Love to Learn by Elaine Cooper

THE WRITING CRAFT:  (not great, but not bad either)

  • Writing Picture Books: A Hands on Guide From Story to Creation by Ann Whitford Paul
  • 2014 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market
  • A Family of Readers - The Book Lover's Guide to Children's and Young Adult Literature  (started)
  • Honey For A Child's Heart - The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life  (this one easily falls into the Homeschooling category as well as A Family of Readers) (started...I think I'm about a third of the way in)

ORTHODOXY:

  • The Orthodox Study Bible - yes, I've already read it 🙂  But the bible is a daily must no matter how many times one has read it  (Trying to use a recent recommendation and keeping it lying open in a spot that I pass by often.... it's open to the psalms - also reading a bible commentary on the book of Luke)
  • The Faith by Clark Carlton
  • Inner River: A Pilgrimage to the Hart of Christian Spirituality by Kyriacos C. Markides
  • The Open Door by Frederica Mathewes-Green (just started again recently)
  • 2014 Daily Lives, Miracles and Wisdom of the Saints (Fasting Calendar by The Orthodox Calendar Company) (ugh.... not doing well with keeping up with this...yikes... not even sure where it is...need to locate and put by the bedside again or maybe with my bible commentary)

FOOD/NATURAL HEALTH:(uh, yeah, well....... not doing so well here...I keep getting distracted by fiction! LOL)

  • The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson
  • The Coconut Miracle by Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D.
  • It Starts With Food by Dallas & Mellissa Hartwig - I've read this before but I have a feeling I'll be reading it again...it was that good and packed with great information.
  • ??  More to be Determined!

OTHER FICTION: (GLIMPSE was just released....maybe I'll talk my DH into stopping by the mall today so I can see if I can pick it up!  Hope it's as good as it sounds!)

  • Dr. Sleep by Stephen King  ***  I couldn't let this one go by, no matter how many other books I'm reading!  It's the sequel to The SHINING....my first Stephen King book that I ever read!   (see my post on it here)
  • Lily's Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff - a Newberry Honor Book (See my book review)
  • The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson  -  sadly it's not in the picture because it doesn't come out until January 7th.... but I should be getting it delivered that day!!  (Wrote a post on this one.....still feeling the pain of the protagonist... will probably read this one again but maybe not this year)
  • Glimpse - the debut novel by Kendra  Leighton... apparently based on the epic poem, The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes... this book is due out in August.
  • The Red Badge of Courage (my son is reading this one this year and I never have)
  • The Pearl by John Steinbeck (Another my son is reading)
  • The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway (And another)
  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare (My son's first Shakespeare - wish us luck!) (started.....oops...forgot to finish although my son did....hmmm...read before we watch the Netflix DVD that's on the TV stand or after???)
  • Others, if time, To Be Determined.....

PICTURE BOOKS:

  • No current list made.... I'm sure there will be tons....  at the very minimum we go to the library every 2-3 weeks and get at least 12-15 books..... that should involve a lot of reading!  (Yep....been reading A LOT of these.... LOVING IT!)

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I'm not giving up on the New Year's Resolutions either.  I decided to print out my list and keep it by my bedside to use as a marker for whatever my current bedside book is so that I have a visual reminder each evening, allowing me to keep them more present in my mind.

How are you doing on your resolutions for the year and reading goals?

5

"It has been said that time heals all wounds. I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue, and the pain lessens, but it is never gone."
~ Rose Kennedy

I have to agree with Rose on this one.  While I often have referred to forgiveness in my posts with different quotes and my posts on Orthodoxy, I don't think forgiveness necessarily means you lose the scar tissue.  There are pains in life one never forgets.  It sticks with you like a thistle sticks to your socks, like the clutching hold of a drowning man, like a tick embedded in your skin....

You do need to forgive - not necessarily for the sake of the person that has offended you but for your own soul and your ability to live a peaceful life.  That doesn't mean you'll forget the pain or that it won't affect you in any way.  You don't need to have an ongoing relationship with someone who causes you immense pain.  You don't need to submit yourself to more pain and certainly not abuse.  You do need to forgive, pray for them, and let go of the anger that lives down inside erupting into unexpected blows that erupt like Mt. St. Helen's.

And yet even with forgiveness, the pain can still linger....  but I think we can put it to good use.  We must recognize where the pain comes from.  While we work on forgiveness, we must also recognize 'what has this event or circumstance done to us? What has the pain caused?'  A person who is overly sensitive because of traumatic events in childhood can use that sensitivity to be empathetic to others who are sensitive as well or have lived through similar ordeals.

What qualities do YOU have that are a result of past pain? Though that pain may truly never cease to exist, how can YOU use it for good - allowing the pain to subside and be put to good use?

Random Thoughts On A Saturday:

  • We had a wonderful time at the 77th 2014 Novogodny Ball held at the Crown Plaza in New Jersey this past weekend.... here's a video clip from the 2013 Ball that I found on You Tube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1In_2R0H3g
  • Writing is my passion.  So is chocolate...but writing is a bit healthier.
  • While listening to her toddler make rhyming words is incredibly delightful and I can truly find amazement in his ability to do so, the fact that the rhyming words are nonsense words and he does it all day long can drive a mamma wild.  LOL
  • I am grateful to the people that love my family and make our days brighter by the gift of their time to help us.
  • It's important to do things for yourself.  Make yourself a priority.  That doesn't mean to forget the other priorities in your life, but don't forget to include yourself in them.

2

Who doesn't love books?

Okay, I realize there are a few but those are just crazy people....lol... actually, I believe  those people were just  never given the right books!  My true passion for books started with this one:

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I read lots of books before that...true...but my need to devour a book began with Nancy Drew.  I polished this one off in two days and I was only in 2nd grade!  I later devoured many more and I plan to devour quite a few this year.  I thought I'd share my plan for books with you for 2014....   I touched upon it in my New Year's Resolution post...  but since then I've made a list and updated my photo for the blog with the books I'm currently reading or plan to read in the upcoming year.  They are not ALL on the shelf yet, obviously...  I haven't yet purchased all of the Newberry Medal books yet and I hope that I will add more as the year goes on.  But here is what's on the shelf so far:

NEWBERRY MEDAL BOOKS: 

  • Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman*
  • Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz*
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
  • Missing May by Cynthia Rylant
  • Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson
  • Carry On Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
  • ?  still deciding....
  • ?  still deciding
* They are not in the picture because I haven't purchased them yet!

HOMESCHOOL SOURCES:

  • Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Englemann - I've read the parts I need to 'read' but we are still using it for the exercises so I don't count it as totally completed yet!
  • Exploring America by Ray Notgrass -  Reading Book #2 with my son for school
  • Laying Down The Rails - Sonya ShaferThe Early Years - Shafer & Smith
  • All Day Charlotte Mason Seminar  &  The Books and Things Seminar - DVDs and workbooks presented by Simply Charlotte Mason
  • When Children Love to Learn by Elaine Cooper

THE WRITING CRAFT:

  • Writing Picture Books: A Hands on Guide From Story to Creation by Ann Whitford Paul
  • 2014 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market
  • A Family of Readers - The Book Lover's Guide to Children's and Young Adult Literature
  • Honey For A Child's Heart - The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life  (this one easily falls into the Homeschooling category as well as A Family of Readers)

ORTHODOXY:

  • The Orthodox Study Bible - yes, I've already read it 🙂  But the bible is a daily must no matter how many times one has read it,
  • The Faith by Clark Carlton
  • Inner River: A Pilgrimage to the Hart of Christian Spirituality by Kyriacos C. Markides
  • The Open Door by Frederica Mathewes-Green
  • 2014 Daily Lives, Miracles and Wisdom of the Saints (Fasting Calendar by The Orthodox Calendar Company)

FOOD/NATURAL HEALTH:

  • The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson
  • The Coconut Miracle by Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D.
  • It Starts With Food by Dallas & Mellissa Hartwig - I've read this before but I have a feeling I'll be reading it again...it was that good and packed with great information.
  • ??  More to be Determined!

OTHER FICTION:

  • Dr. Sleep by Stephen King  ***  I couldn't let this one go by, no matter how many other books I'm reading!  It's the sequel to The SHINING....my first Stephen King book that I ever read!
  • Lily's Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff - a Newberry Honor Book
  • The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson  -  sadly it's not in the picture because it doesn't come out until January 7th.... but I should be getting it delivered that day!!
  • Glimpse - the debut novel by Kendra  Leighton... apparently based on the epic poem, The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes... this book is due out in August.
  • The Red Badge of Courage (my son is reading this one this year and I never have)
  • The Pearl by John Steinbeck (Another my son is reading)
  • The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway (And another)
  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare (My son's first Shakespeare - wish us luck!)
  • Others, if time, To Be Determined.....

PICTURE BOOKS:

  • No current list made.... I'm sure there will be tons....  at the very minimum we go to the library every 2-3 weeks and get at least 12-15 books..... that should involve a lot of reading!

What's on Your bookshelf to read?

2

I started this blog on March 17, 2012 with the post 'Hello World!'  which was really just some common post by WordPress.  My first actual post was simply titledTime To Begin Again and the second post, dated the same day, was Introduction. Both of those posts were extremely brief and didn't have a whole lot of material. It was really just my first feeble attempt at starting to write again.  It didn't amount to much at first but....   That was almost twenty-one months ago!!  Of course, I didn't start writing consistently until about 7 weeks ago...so I would still call the blog fairly young(105 posts today) but I am enjoying it.  I hope you are as well.

I seem to be settling into a routine.

Monday-  Homeschooling

Tuesday - Our Food Story -  natural health and eating

Wednesday- Books

Thursday - Orthodoxy

Friday - Writing

Saturday - Random Quotes/Posts and Random Thoughts on a Saturday

Sunday - well, that would be my day of rest...no posts.      

I've also learned a few things....like how to put in links which I love to do...and finally how to put a picture to the right or left side and have words right next to it....so simple but I'm so slow!  (Yes, I am laughing at myself so you can too--- and now...laugh more...because it doesn't always work and I still can't figure out what I'm doing wrong!!)

When I have time, I read posts from the blogs I follow.  I'd love to read them all every day but................ well, you know.   I have, however,  learned a lot from them!  I like to see other people's writing styles, the topics they write about, and even what other people say in response to their post!

It's exciting to see my followers increase in number and to see which posts get the most views.  My record is 73 views in a day...  that's probably not much for some of those well-known blogs out there but to me that's a big deal and I'm enjoying it.  The posts that have had the biggest number of hits are #1  Our Food Story  and #2 Those People Who Always Smile.  I'm glad people are interested in Our Food Story because that's one of the main reasons I started blogging.  A LOT of people have encouraged me (A big thank you to those people - you know who you are) over the last few years to start telling people our story...how our lives have changed because of food ...and to tell others what we have learned and accomplished in doing so and to just start writing again!!!  As far as Those People Who Always Smile, I'm thinking it must be the catchy title... and I'm also thinking I should do a follow-up to that post...I've had so many other thoughts about it since the day I originally published it!

I LOVE getting comments!!!!                  So please---  if you have a thought--- share it!  🙂

I feel satisfied with the way things are going here...but am open to ideas on improving the blog as well.  I've thought about changing the title...but no AMAZING titles have jumped out at me and said "Yes!  This is what it should be!"....  I guess it's hard to name because I don't just stick to one topic ( I am a gal of many many hats!).  I've said before I know I cover a lot of stuff here rather than just one topic that most of the popular blogs cover...but that's me...  I am passionate about a lot of things and so I'm going to write about a lot of things!  🙂

But if YOU have any ideas..... please pass them along.

Maybe you have an idea for some future posts on the topics I mentioned above...or maybe you have a question.... or maybe even a suggestion on a new title if I ever get around to changing it one day...could be soon...might not ever happen. Maybe you have an idea for a picture book too...lol...don't tell me though if you think you might want to write it yourself!!    And, if you have a suggestion on how I can just blog and write all day long and still get other things done....lol....then you're amazing and I need to know what that suggestion is!!!

Have a great day everyone!!  I hope you get some writing time today if that's what you enjoy---  I really hope I do too!!

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Tomorrow is the feast day of St. Nicholas in the Orthodox Church.

Before converting to Orthodoxy, I really didn't know much about the real St. Nicholas.  I knew he existed.  I knew there really had been a man that grew into the legendary figure that most children know today as 'Santa Claus'.  

I grew up with visions of sugarplums dancing in my head. Oh how I believed!

I would look up into the sky on our way home from Christmas Eve services and wonder if that red light in the sky belonged to a reindeer...or was it just a plane?  I went to bed anxiously awaiting the arrival of 'a miniature slay'with eight tiny reindeer NINE reindeer (we can't remember the most legendary reindeer of all) and 'a little old driver so lively and quick'!  AND I was really anxious that Santa just may pass me over with all the adults up in the house making such ridiculous noises!! (okay...don't judge at just how incredibly naive I was  and had NO idea they were going up and down the attic stairs to get hidden presents, wrapping and all that adults do on Christmas eve.....)

Orthodox tradition tells us that Nicholas was born to an elderly couple in Asia Minor (Turkey) in 280 AD.  His parents had been wealthy.  When they died, Nicholas began giving generously to the poor.  One story tells of how he had thrown money into the window of a merchant one night in order to save the merchant's daughters from being sold into prostitution due to the merchant's debts. The merchant later discovered who it was but Nicholas did not want the story told - as he wanted all to give glory to God alone.  This particular story is the inspiration behind secret gift-giving on the anniversary of St. Nicholas' death - December 6th.

Saint Nicholas later became the bishop of Myra. He was imprisoned during Emperor Diocletian's persecution of Christians and freed by Emporer Constantine.  He died in the year 343 AD.

Read more: http://thestoryofliberty.homestead.com/Saint-Nicholas-to-Santa-Claus-.html#ixzz2m90gx8Q4

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Nicholas_of_Myra

                                                                              

When we had another child after converting to Orthodoxy, I wondered if we should change any of our customs regarding Santa Claus.  The other two children had been raised as I had, believing in a man who drives a sleigh pulled by reindeer.  We set up my Department 57  North Pole Villiage each year and hung our stockings by the fireplace.  I wondered if this was alright to do.  I've decided that it is.

Santa Claus to me, is not just that imaginiary man dressed up in a red suit. He is a symbol.  He is a symbol that stands for having the faith to believe in the impossible.  It's a symbol to believe that Christmas brings joy, love, 'magic'--  Christmas Magic....  Christmas miracles....  and I believe in Christmas miracles.  And I want my children to believe in it too.

Are there other ways to teach about the miracles of Christmas?  Absolutely.  And I don't fault anyone who chooses not teach their child to believe in Santa.  I get it.  But I enjoy the wonderment--- I enjoy seeing the eyes twinkle and the anticipation...and the belief that one man loves little children so much that he would encircle the earth to give to them all.  And we will teach our child about the real St. Nicholas too...and when he's old enough to comprehend which was real and which isn't so much... we will tell him that too (and whatever that age that my child decides to ask questions or not believe is is up to my child...NOT me) ...  but for now...we will continue to take part in that silly part of Christmas  --  sitting on the lap of this really nice man and telling him our Christmas wishes.

I still believe.  Do you?

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I was going to write about the Theotokos (Mary) today as I always find myself pondering over her... her role in Christianity...her role as Christ's mother.  But I think I am getting ahead of myself as I haven't really written much about the church itself just yet. (And perhaps I would be remiss if I didn't add a small segment about Halloween... a 'festival', not a holiday as a holy day it is not...  so I will mention it briefly at the end)

The Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  No, we are NOT the Roman Catholic Church.  The word 'catholic' means universal.  Therefor, we are the universal church started by Christ and the apostles.  This started in approximately 33 AD.

The "church" was not founded by man as some would have you believe.  The Church is God-given.  "I hope to come to you soon," writes St. Paul, "but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth."  1 Timothy 3:14-15.  The whole universe is God's Church. The Orthodox Church is, indeed, the first Christian Church.  It is founded by our Lord Jesus Christ just as it is described in the New Testament.  The history of the Orthodox Church can literally be traced back all the way to Christ and the 12 apostles. For the first thousand years, there was only this ONE church until the Great Schism in 1054.  (Perhaps I'll write more on that another day.)

The Orthodox Church is not merely a building.  God doesn't need the building we call a church.  We, the people, do.  We need places to go that are very specifically made to be dedicated to God.  This is where we gather together  with the one sole purpose of worshiping God and dedicating our time to seek His will.   Is that the only place we can worship and seek His will?  No, of course not.  But that is the central place we can always count on that is full of others who also seek to Worship and to be in God's presence. This is where He speaks to us through Scripture readings and offers Himself to us through Holy Communion.  Entering this 'building', one cannot help but know you are in His presence as your senses are filled not of earthly things you leave outdoors but of the Heavenly realm.

The church is also not merely a building because it is not just the physical structure that is the church. The people are the Church.  The clergy and the laity together build this part of the non-physical structure of the church. "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light".  1 Peter .  Therefore, the Church is not to be identified with a mere building but with the people, God's people, in whom He dwells.

There are over 225 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.  I bet you had no idea.  This is because, despite its size, the Orthodox Church seems to be America's best-kept secret!   This is a shame.  The Orthodox Church has deep roots and is steeped in a rich biblical tradition that many thirst for.   The Orthodox Church maintains its original New Testament tradition.  There is a joke about how many Orthodox does it take to change a lightbulb... the answer is none because Orthodoxy doesn't change.  It's true.  While the Catholic and Protestant churches have changed many many things over the years, Orthodoxy does not change.

Well, I think that may be enough for one day.  But some may be wondering what it is we, Orthodox, believe in.  So I will leave you with this.  It is the Nicene Creed:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible,  And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages.  Light of light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of one essence with the Father by whom all things were made for us men and for our salvation, came down from Heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man.  And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate and suffered and was buried and the third day he rose again according to the scriptures.  And ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, whose Kingdom shall have no end.  And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the giver of life who proceeds from the Father who with the Father and the son together is worshipped and glorified who spoke by the prophets. I believe in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.  I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.  I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.  Amen.

 

And in regards to Halloween.....

The Orthodox Church does not support the celebration of Halloween.  There are some Orthodox Christians that do allow their children to participate in festivities, seeing it as a harmless activity, as surely they are not worshipping any form in such harmless activities.  I, myself, up until recently, still had a few of those 'harmless' decorations that were 'cute'.  I actually just put them away earlier this week and do not plan on resurfacing them other than for perhaps a garage sale.  We have decided to continue handing out treats at the door, at least for the time being, to be neighborly... as we rarely see our neighbors (we live in the country).  Though this activity may change at some point.  I put these decorations away after reading several articles written by priests/bishops of the Holy Orthodox Church.  I will share the links to the articles as I don't feel confident enough to relay their message quite as eloquently and am only adding this on at the last moment this morning.  So if you care to know the whys behind the nonsupport of these so-called 'harmless' activities, you can read here:

Bishop Kyrill of Seattle  On Halloween  October 2012

The Greek Orthodox Church on Halloween

Halloween  OrthodoxWiki

Ancient Faith Radio